"Such is the poor moorland tract of Country; Zorndorf the centre of it,--where the battle is likely to be:--Zorndorf and environs a bare quasi-island among these woods; extensive bald crown of the landscape, girt with a frizzle of firwoods all round. Boggy pools there are, especially on the western side (all drained in our time). Mutzel, or north side, is of course the lowest in level: and accordingly," what is much to be marked by readers here, "from the south, or Zorndorf side, at wide intervals, there saunter along, in a slow obscure manner, Three miserable continuous Leakages, or oozy Threads of Water, all making for Quartschen, to north or northwest, there to disembogue into the Mutzel. Each of these has its little Hollow; of which the westernmost, called Zabern Hollow (ZABERNGRUND), is the most considerable, and the most important to us here: GALGENGRUND (Gallows-Hollow) is also worth naming in this Battle; the third Leakage, though without importance, invites us to name it, HOSEBRUCH, quasi STOCKING- quagmire,--because you can use no stockings there, except with manifest disadvantage."--Take this other concluding trait:--
... "Inexpressible fringe of marsh, two or three miles broad, mostly bottomless, woven with sluggish creeks and stagnant pools, borders the Warta for many miles towards Landsberg; Custrin-Landsberg Causeway the alone sure footing in it; after which, the country rises insensibly, but most beneficially, and is mainly drier till you get to the Mutzel again, and find the same fringe of mud lace-work again, Zorndorf we called the crown of it. Tamsel, Wilkersdorf, Klein Kamin, Gross Kamin, and other places known to us, lie on the dry turf-fuel country, but looking over close upon the hem of that marsh-fringe, and no doubt getting peats, wild ducks, pike-fishes, eels, and snatches of summer pasture and cow-hay out of it."
Thursday, August 24th, Friedrich is again speeding on; occupying Darmutzel and other crossing-places of the Mutzel; [Mitchell to Holderness, "DErmItzel, 24th August, 1758" (MEMOIRS AND PAPERS, i. 425; Ib. ii. 40-47, Mitchell's Private Journal).]-- by no means himself crossing there; on the contrary, carefully breaking all the Bridges before he go ("No retreat for those Russian vagabonds, only death or surrender for them!")--himself not intending to cross till he be up at Damm, Neu Damm, well eastward of his Russians, and have got them all pinfolded between Mutzel and Oder in that way. In the evening, he reaches Damm and the Mill of Damm, some three or four miles higher up the Mutzel;--and there pushes partly across at once. That is to say, his vanguard at once, and takes a defensive position; his Artillery and other Divisions by degrees, in the silent night hours; and, before daybreak to-morrow, every soul will be across, and the Bridge broken again; --and Fermor had better have his accounts settled.
Fermor's roving Cossack clouds seldom bring him in intelligence; but only return stained with charcoal grime and red murder: up to late last night, he had not known where Friedrich was at all; had idly thought him busy with the Schaumburg Redoubt, on the other side of Oder, fencing and precautioning: but now (night of the 23d), these Cossacks do come in with news, "Indisputable to our poor minds, the Prussians are at Klossow yonder,--captured a dozen green vagabonds of us, and have sent us galloping!"--which news, with the night closing in on him, was astonishing, thrice and four times important to Fermor.
Instantly he raises the siege of Custrin, any siege there was; gets his immense baggage-train shoved off that night to Klein Kamin, Landsberg way; summons the force from Landsberg to join him without loss of a moment;--and in the meanwhile pitches himself in long bivouac in the Drewitz Wood or Fir-Heath, with the quaggy Zaberngrund in front. Quaggy Zaberngrund,--do readers remember it; one of those "Three continuous Leakages," very important, to Fermor and us at present? This is the safest place Fermor can find for himself; scraggy firs around, good quagmires and Zabern Hollow in front; looking to the east, waiting what a new day will bring. That was Fermor's posture, while Friedrich quitted Klossow in the dawn of the 24th. Be busy, ye Cossack doggeries; return with news, not with mere grime and marks of blood on your mouths!
Evening of the 24th, Cossacks report that Friedrich has got to Damm Mill; has hold of the Bridge there; and may be looked for, sure as the daylight, to-morrow. Fermor is 50,000 odd, his Landsberg forces all coming in; one Detachment out Stettin way, which cannot come in; Fermor finds that his baggage-train is fairly on the road to Klein Kamin;--and that he will have to quit this bosky bivouac, and fight for himself in the open ground, or do worse.
THESEUS AND THE MINOTAUR OVER AGAIN,--THAT IS TO SAY, FRIEDRICH AT HAND-GRIPS WITH FERMOR AND HIS RUSSIANS (25TH AUGUST, 1758).
Artless Fermor draws out to the open ground, north of Zorndorf, south of Quartschen; arranges himself in huge quadrilateral mass, with his "staff-baggage" (lighter baggage) in the centre, and his front, so to speak, everywhere. [Excellent Plan of him, or rather Plans, in his successive shapes, in Tielcke, ii. (PLATES 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).] Mass, say two miles long by one mile broad; but it is by no means regular, and has many zigzags according to the ground, and narrows and droops southward on the eastern end: one of the most artless arrangements; but known to Fermor, and the readiest on this pinch of time. Munnich devised this quadrilateral mode; and found it good against the Turks, and their deluges of raging horse and foot: Fermor could perhaps do better; but there is such a press of hurry. Fermor's western flank, or biggest breadth of quadrilateral, leans on that Zabern Hollow, with its fine quagmires; his eastern, narrowest part, droops down on certain mud-pools and conveniences towards Zicher. Gallows Hollow, a slighter than the Zabern, runs through the centre of him; and with his best people he fronts towards the Mutzel Bridges, especially towards Damm-Mill Bridge whence Friedrich will emerge, sure as the sunrise, one knows not with what issue. Artless Fermor is nothing daunted; nor are his people; but stand patiently under arms, regardless of future and present, to a degree not common in soldiering.